I have been revising my research paper and I have started to grapple with the feeling that I have often felt about revising. It has always been weird to revise a paper of any kind because after I finish writing, I usually feel some sort of feeling of accomplishment as if all is well and the process is over. Don’t get me wrong revising is important and very productive. Taking an already developed idea or writing and then developing it further is a great march toward perfection. But that grade school feeling of being finished and just needing to have someone check it and correct grammar and spelling errors is so strong! I suppose the embracing of the rewriting process is a sign of professional maturity. A sort of value that one takes on as one spends more time in the business. But the clash between habit and will is a strange feeling to have nonetheless.
The assigned readings of the The Information-Literate Historian were very helpful in their treatment of historical research on the Internet. I particularly liked the methodologies that it gave on the evaluation of websites and how to construct one of your own. The idea of being able to access primary documents on the web is fairly enticing and I enjoyed the benefits of that possibility during the performance of my own research this semester. For some odd reason, I still have yet to construct a website of my own. This semester is the first time that I operated my own blog and religiously read the blogs of others. Before this semester, I viewed blogs as being interesting but not always the best use of one’s time. And, of course, the idea of putting your private life on the web for everyone to see just sounded problematic. That is still something that I don’t quite understand. Nonetheless, I have gained a better familiarity and respect for the Internet than I had prior to taking this course. It is strange how much the internet has changed since the last time I was in college.
Although I must say that the Internet and I do not know each other as much as we should, I have been impressed with a few of the museum and presidential library sites that I have encountered. The Library of Congress, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, and the Virtual Museum of African American History websites are ones that I have visited and with which I am impressed.
Here are the web sites if you want to visit any of them:
The Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/index.html
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library: http://www.jfklibrary.org/
Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library: http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/
Virtual Museum of African American History: http://nmaahc.si.edu/
For more information go to Prof. McClurken’s blog post on presenting historical research online.
I just got done looking over everything at the umwblogs site for the freshman seminar James Farmer & the Great Debaters (the link to the site is on my list of links on the right). They are doing pretty good work. I must say that I now understand the need for speech transcription after having to listen to a fifty minute speech by Farmer that had a fifteen minute question and answer period period afterwards that was cut short by the recording. Unfortunately, the majority of what I listened to was not useful to my paper (hence the need for transcription). It was interesting, though, reading all of the research questions of the seminar participants. One of them would like there to be a James Farmer holiday in Virginia in order to raise awareness about his civil rights contributions. Another would like to accomplish that goal by adding a question about James Farmer to the SOL exam. It is a joy watching and listening to Farmer speak–he was a great public speaker. I can only hope to be half as good a speaker as he was during my 10 minute oral presentation.
After watching myself on the DVD recorded by Prof. McClurken, I think I like the tool of watching yourself on video. The possibilities of finetuning my speechmaking abilities are very seductive. I already have plans to change some of what I do when making a speech, and simply being cognizant of what I am doing wrong should prove to be very helpful. This conclusion is very surprising given all of the bad things that I have heard about watching yourself on tape. As a matter of fact, I am currently trying to figure out whether it is a bad thing that I don’t mind critiquing myself in this fashion. Well, anyway, I can’t wait to find the time to change and be videotaped making a speech again!